Importance of indigenous technology

S. Thiagarajan

The reason behind the tendency to criticise indigenous developments and technologies and advocate imports is mainly due to the tremendous confidence that Indians repose in anything that is imported from the point of view of provenness, performance and reliability. Though this may be true to some extent, the ignorance of the Indians about the indigenously developed products in comparison with the imported ones mainly because of lack of benchmarking exercise either by the development agencies or by an independent body in India seems to be the main reason. Indians should know that funds are being pumped into research and development activities of various governmental laboratories and organisations apart from a host of private sector funded research organisations, universities and educational institutions.

Archiving research

Many good indigenous efforts put in by small as well as big organisations go futile because there are no champions within these organisations to promote them in the market both inside and outside India. Incidentally it would be pertinent to mention here that chronicling the development and research activities and archiving them in the organisational memory and periodic access and reviews to assess their relevance for their usability at a later point of time for any innovation without any need for ab initio development or “reinventing the wheel” would avoid major wastage of time and cost at the national level. This may help in building a competitive advantage over other countries in developing and vending our technologies and products.

It may be true that some of the development efforts put in may become unsuccessful or end up unviable due to the competitive global scenario. But the learning experience gained has a value in the sense that for any future innovation, evaluation and benchmarking of imported technologies if there is any need to acquire them, such an experience would help immeasurably. There has been significant failure in nurturing the managerial and administrative competence especially with regard to R&D and indigenous developmental efforts.

Local initiatives

While Indian scientists and engineers have contributed immensely to the progress and prosperity of the nation, Indian managers and administrators have been more focused on short-term successes and immediate tangible benefits. There has been no effort, except in certain fields like IT, towards generating a global vision and dovetailing the developmental initiatives towards futuristic global requirements and aspirations. While certain companies abroad have positioned themselves towards such a vision like IBM which claims it offers “solutions for a small planet”, there is no such visionary company in India. Many public sector companies in high-tech areas shy away from looking at the global scenario.

As confidentiality is very important, there is restraint in giving information about R&D efforts and this becomes a loss to the country as it may not be available to those who would like to innovate on the work already carried out. The extent of loss, if the initiatives are not documented (which is not impossible in these days of memory sizes available for storage of huge volumes of data), could be significant. It may be appropriate if an organisation funded or controlled by government takes over this task of unifying the large data-bases available on R&D initiatives in various institutions in the country and facilitate availability of information in order to avoid duplication or pursue further in the field of interest.

The custodians of this common information resource should take into account aspects such as IP rights, marketability, impetus to venture capital initiatives along with providing data for development activities.

Recommended for you